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A Case Study by Matthew Hunter, Amanda Livaudais, and Desiree Roughton

Introduction: What is Broadband?_

Matthew Hunter
Source: crenk.com
Source: crenk.com
Broadband is a form of high-speed internet access. There are three main benefits to using broadband. Broadband speeds are significantly faster then previous Internet technologies. Whereas Dial-up only allowed for data transmission up to rates of 54 kilobits per second, broadband allows anywhere between 64 kilobits and 2 megabits per second. Consumers are now able to access higher levels of data, such as videos, music, and online gaming. The second benefit is perpetual connectivity. Consumers would have to connect to the Internet using and tying up an existing phone line to gain online access. Now, with broadband, consumers are able to access the Internet without interrupting their land line, and vice versa. This allows constant access to information. The third benefit is broadband’s ability to enhance existing applications. Consumers are now able to access more services online, such as tax, health care, and e-commerce services.

Source: broadband-finder.co.uk
Source: broadband-finder.co.uk
There are several technologies that are considered broadband technologies. These include DSL, cable and fiber optic modems, and WLAN technologies. DSL is a digital subscriber line. DSL is available because it splits voce and date services using the same phone line. Cable modems use TV cables as a means of transferring data. Fiber Optic modems, also referred to as fios, uses lasers and pulses of light to transmit data through fine threads of silicon. Fios technologies can carry significantly more information than the fastest DSL and cable connections. WLAN technologies are being used to allow information access over certain areas using mobile devices. The most common WLAN technology is Wi-Fi.

Broadband is being used to help shrink a digital divide that exists between rural and urban areas. In the UK, government and broadband service providers are working together to create infrastructure to dissolve this divide and bring the rural areas up to par with the rest of the nation.


Broadband History in the UK_

Amanda Livaudais
source: websiteoptimization.com
source: websiteoptimization.com

In 1990 a network solutions company, Hybrid Networks, developed and patented the first asymmetrical cable broadband modem.

Most government considered broadband a objective for social cohesion and therefore made action plans in the 1990s. The United Kingdom adopted a soft-intervention strategy, which had low government involvement and relies mostly of the market to force supply, and government policies focus more on the stimulation of demand.

Broadband has been available since the late nineties, but there were few cable operators offering the broadband connection and it was only sporadically available and it depended on your location.
In the United Kingdom domestic internet connectivity switched from dial-up to broadband starting in 2000. In late 2000 it was British Telecom that introduced the first generic version of DSL, and they opened up a whole sale program for internet service providers (ISP) to resell British Telecom Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) products. The model would go from Producer/Wholesaler (British Telecom) to Retailer (ISP) to the Consumer.

In the last few years technology has advanced and this has cause the bandwidth to become cheaper. The demand for broadband has increased and this has caused the number of broadband providers to also increase. The increased competition has increased offers like lower prices, bundling, free incentives.
crunchvictims.com
crunchvictims.com
source: gadgeteer.org.uk/ tag/virgin/
source: gadgeteer.org.uk/ tag/virgin/


British Telecom and Virgin Media are the leading broadband networks in the UK. British Telecom is the largest network right now, but Virgin Media has the fastest broadband package available.

source: 10yearsofbroadband.com
source: 10yearsofbroadband.com

1999: UK's first consumer broadband service launched
2000: ADSL cable broadband launched; BT launches & offers 512k broadband for £39.99/month
2001: UK is 11 out of 13 in deployment of broadband from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
2002: BT launches Broadband with a £23 million campaign
9% of UK households have high-speed connection
2003: The number of households and small businesses using broadband passes 3m million mark
2004: 5 million broadband connections in the UK
Broadband no available to 90% of the population
2005: 2Mb Broadband launched to the UK
2006: Ofcom forces BT to open exchanges up to rivals to give UK more competitive broadband market
2007: 42% of households in the EU now have a broadband connection
2008: Virgin launched 50 Mb product
2009: UK broadband penetration is 14th highest worldwide
50% of UK households now connected to broadband

Policy Strategy Comparison_

Desiree Roughton
Within the last decade and a half the majority of developed countries have implemented some type of broadband promotion strategy. These approaches can be categorized into the three types outlined below.

Soft-Intervention Strategies
The United Kingdom promotes a soft-intervention strategy. Characterized by low government involvement,
First fiber optic broadband service in UK
First fiber optic broadband service in UK
these strategies rely on the market to support broadband supply. These strategies are highly recommended by the OECD, as well as organizations such as the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA). Advocates of this strategy note that because the development of broadband is still in its early stages, limited government involvement promotes competition and fosters healthy market development. Also, strong market competition is considered essential in ensuring efficient supply and technical innovation and adaptation (Cava-Ferreruela 447).

These approaches create ideal environments for market development. Regulatory actions aimed to foster competition create a thriving supply side. Some efforts include infrastructure-sharing rules or “unbundling policies” and diminishing barriers to private investment (i.e. rights of way). Demand stimulants include, but are not limited to promotions such as user financial incentives, government usage improvement, consumer education, promoting application, and ensuring a secure transaction environment (Cava-Ferreruela 3).external image broadband_access_ipsos.jpg

Other examples include Switzerland, Denmark, and New Zealand (Cava-Ferreruela 447).

Medium-Intervention Strategies
These approaches involve more proactive government involvement. Medium-intervention strategies realize the limits of market stimulation in total broadband reach. Bringing broadband to an entire country, including the most rural areas, is not always the best financial decision for private companies. Governments implementing incentive policies stimulate a wider broadband reach in a more aggressive manner (Cava-Ferreruela 447).

Examples of countries utilizing a medium-intervention strategy include the United States, Ital, France and Sweden (Cava-Ferreruela 448).

Hard-Intervention Strategies
Hard-intervention strategies are characterized by strong proactive government involvement. Some actions may even be included in government designed socio-economic plans (Cava-Ferreruela4).

Examples of countries utilizing a hard-intervention strategy include Korea, Norway, or Singapore (Cava-Ferreruela 448).

One common trait among all strategies is the involvement of government in the promotion of broadband. There is no solid conclusion to determine the best type of strategy for broadband promotion (Cava-Ferreruela 449).

The Current State of Broadband in the UK_

Desiree Roughto
Currently, the UK ranks 25th in quality and reach of its broadband networks (BBC News). In 2009, the UK was listed as "meeting needs for today" while Japan and Korea continue to come out on top. However, these rankings can be deceiving, according to Cisco's Communication Manager, Joanne Hughes ,"the important thing is whether the broadband quality of a country is good enough for today's needs and the UK falls well within this category." The UK is satisfying the demands of quality, but will need to continue improving their services to stay within this level (BBC News).
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UK Broadband Penetration (as of 2008)
UK Broadband Penetration (as of 2008)

Today, an overwhelming majority of the UK population subscribe to broadband services. Government regulations aim to foster continuous competition among providers, helping both consumers and suppliers. Effective competition includes consumer freedom and ease to migrate from one service provider to another. Encouraging this ability to migrate is essential in maintaining the current success of broadband dissemination
Ofcom logo
Ofcom logo
(Ofcom 4). Based on research done by Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, broadband promotion is in need of new regulatory policies that ensure easy customer migration between providers (Ofcom 6).


The Future of Broadband in the UK_

Matthew Hunter
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Operating as a provider of broadband has become increasingly difficult as competition rises. The providers are all offering great deals by offering low prices or bundle packages to impress and attract new customers. However, with “cheap” broadband comes restricted bandwidth, limiting the consumers’ access. This restriction doesn’t harm the average consumer, as their usage often will not exceed their bandwidth allowance. Competitive pricing is beneficial to the consumer as it allows the consumer to explore their options.

Unfortunately, a vast majority of people are concerned that the UK is reaching the limits of its broadband network. As demands for bandwidth increase, added stresses are being placed on the broadband network. Increased data traffic, security, speed, and availability place among some of the public’s biggest concerns.

As discussed above, in terms of reach, the UK places in the top half (25
th) of 66 broadband equipped nations. The study, conducted by Cisco, concluded that the UK is able to meet the needs for today’s broadband demand, but not prepared to meet the demands of the future. The government and broadband providers are working to expand their access by upgrading cable networks and focusing on next generation access to meet these needs.

broadband_quality_chart.png
Source: arstechnica.com

Source: taxreform.cbi.org.uk
Source: taxreform.cbi.org.uk
Fortunate enough for broadband users, as a proposed tax on broadband usage has been cancelled. According to a survey conducted by 10yearsofbroadband, a website dedicated to reviewing the last decade of broadband in the UK, 59 percent of those surveyed disagreed with the new broadband tax. The revenue generated from this tax would be used to foot the expansion of the UK’s broadband infrastructure. While the government will continue to assist with the funding for this project, such as using pieces of other fee revenue, the main source of funding will be provided by investments from the private sector.

The United Kingdom has made it one of its priorities to lead Europe
Source: topnews.co.uk
Source: topnews.co.uk
as the best provider of super-fast broadband by 2015. The government’s plans have been received positively by major broadband providers. One of these plans is to allow providers to use each other’s infrastructure to roll out new fiber optic networks. This will allow for a much quicker nationwide expansion. The government also plans on updating rural areas with super-fast broadband to put them at par with the service available in urban areas. Phil Smith, UK Managing Director for Cisco, claims that the United Kingdom has to be more ambitious if the nation is to maintain its place at the forefront of knowledge.

The UK is at risk of falling behind the rest of the world in terms of network preparedness. Fortunately for consumers, the government and providers are taking action to improve their networks and prepare for the future.


REFERENCES

10 Years of Broadband. Retrieved from: http://10yearsofbroadband.com/

BBC News (1 October 2009). UK broadband 'not fit' for future.
Retrieved from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8282839.stm

Cava-Ferreruela, I. , & Alabau-Munoz, A. (2006). Broadband policy assessment: A cross-national empirical analysis. Telecommunications Policy, 30(8/9), 445-463. Retrieved from ScienceDirect.com

Dhillon, S. (9 June 2010). Brits will get best broadband in Europe by 2015: culture secretary promises.
Retrieved from: http://topnews.co.uk/26179-brits-will-get-best-broadband-europe-2015-culture-secretary-promises

Dhillon, S. (10 June 2010). UK broadband providers react positively to government’s broadband plan.
Retreived from: http://topnews.co.uk/26232-uk-broadband-providers-react-positively-government-s-broadband-plans

Dhillon, S. (11 June 2010). UK Government to legislation to expand fibre broadband roll-out.
Retrieved from: http://topnews.co.uk/26347-uk-government-legislation-expand-fibre-broadband-roll-out

Financial Advice.co.uk. (22 June 2010). UK government cancels broadband tax.
Retrieved from: http://www.financialadvice.co.uk/news/tax/89075-uk-government-cancels-broadband-tax.html

Maksymec, K., & Stimpson, K. (2003). Birth of Broadband - Frequently Asked Questions.
Retrieved from: http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/publications/birthofbroadband/faq.html

Mersault. (27 June 2010). Cable Broadband History.
Retrieved from: http://www.broadbandsuppliers.co.uk/uk-isp/cable-broadband-history

Ofcom. (17 August 2006). Broadband migrations: enabling consumer choice.
Retrieved from: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/migration/summary/

Rowland. (21 Apr. 2010) Broadband Providers in the UK.
Retrieved from: http://www.broadband-help.com/articles/consumer/broadband-providers-in-the-uk#b1

Smith, C. (19 May 2010). UK Broadband Internet Service.
Retrieved from: http://paler.com/uk_broadband_internet_access.html

Worth, D. (9 June 2010). Industry reacts positively to UK broadband plans.
Retrieved from: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/16/20100609/ttc-industry-reacts-positively-to-uk-bro-6315470_1.html